Post-secular Yoga: Popular Spirituality and Health Behaviour in Times of Transcultural Entanglements

Yoga Plakat

This research project looks at the mutual influences of health-seeking behaviour and spiritual aspirations in the present post-secular age, focusing on yoga as a physical movement practice and considering case studies from Germany and, partially, India. The central point of investigation is whether and in what ways popular forms of postural yoga can be considered as a cultural site that influences participants, their life-style and response to challenges of life in a comprehensive (‘religious’) way, and what significance subjective somatic experience has in this process. How does yoga as a bodily practice influence cultural concepts related to health and religion? How does it contribute to positioning the self in local and global networks (sense of community, social imaginaries of space)? How do these processes interact with regional site-specific parameters (e.g., the structure of the religious field)? This raises awareness for transnational entanglements involved in the social formation of meanings, the implied logics of action as well as epistemic loops and frictions. It is assumed that these discursive configurations have to be considered as a result of situated practice and in this respect escape fixed categorial or dichotomous ascriptions. Rather the microsocial level has to be explored by means of qualitative methods of social research aiming at a multisided ethnography.


Hauser, Beatrix 2021. The Health Imaginary of Postural Yoga. In: Anthropology & Medicine, Special Issue: Yoga Bodies, Yoga Minds: The Health Imaginaries of Modern Postural Yoga. Ed. by Allison Shaw & Esra Kaytaz. DOI: 10.1080/13648470.2021.1949962

Hauser Beatrix 2018. Following the Transcultural Circulation of Bodily Practices. Modern Yoga and the Corporeality of Mantras. In: Yoga in Transformation. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Ed. by Karl Baier et al. Göttingen: V & R unipress, 505-528. DOI: 10.14220/9783737008624.505

Previously unpublished lectures:

Beyond Suffering: Female Yoga Pioneers and Ascetic Ideals in Postwar Germany
Vortrag auf der Konferenz "Yoga darśana, yoga sādhana: methods, migrations, mediations" in Krakow,19.5.2022 (online)

Mit Gottvertrauen, Sonnengebet und Vokalatmung: Die Feminisierung des Hatha Yoga in den 1950ern
Vortrag auf der DVRW-Jahrestagung „Religion in Relation“ (Online), 13.-16.9.2021

Asanas, Aspirations and Agency. Attracting Women to Yoga — Vignettes from Post-War Germany and their Impact for Critical Yoga Studies.
Vortrag auf dem Symposium "Gender and Diversity in Contemporary Yoga", Centre for Research on Culture and Gender, Ghent University, 22.10.2020

Religionstheoretische Konstrukträume zur Yogapraxis der Gegenwart.
Vortrag auf der DVRW-Jahrestagung "Konzeptualisierungen von Religion", Leibniz Universität Hannover, 2.-6.9.2019

The Politics of Diabetes in Global India.
Vortrag auf dem Symposium "Bioeconomy, Gouvermental Practices and the Production of Space" des SFB 1199, Universität Leipzig, 18.1.2018

Principal researcher:
PD Dr. Beatrix Hauser

Duration: since 2017